Here at New City, we have a semi-regular highlight series called Just Living. The idea behind the series has been to intentionally heed the call of Micah 6:8, which says:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
The idea behind this verse is that there are simple decisions that we make everyday that can perpetuate systems of injustice or help bring God’s justice into our world.
Some past topics have included:
–The importance of buying fair trade coffee
–Learning about compassionate ways to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises
–Seeing the plight of undocumented workers
–Raising awareness of Sex Trafficking
What does it mean to be a community of multi-cultural Christians? We live in an ethnically and culturally diverse world, and God’s desire is for the church to lead the way in cross cultural relationships. This was first evident in the early church through the inclusion of Gentile and Jewish believers, and the author of Revelation described the future of God’s Kingdom as a multicultural kingdom:
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9)
That means you and I are called to be multi-cultural Christians who know how to listen to and learn from people that come from different backgrounds. Because we live in a highly segregated, majority culture area, we aren’t always good at this.
So, in order to strengthen our multi-cultural muscles, we are going to invite some of the members of our community who are not a part of the majority culture, to come and share what their experience has been like. You can read the interviews by clicking on the links below.
Because of the Syrian Conflict, there are now more refugees in the world than at any time in recorded history. Here are some facts:
Today we are faced with what is called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. In some sense, it is incredible it is happening in our lifetime and then again, maybe we have been born for such a time as this…much like Queen Esther who courageous stepped up and stood in the gap for those in need in her time.
Right now in this Syrian conflict there is a great gaping need. Jesus calls us to come alongside those who are suffering and demonstrate God’s love and compassion. What is our response? This is not about whether to allow refugees into the US or not. We are not focusing on the political discussion but rather on helping to provide basic needs facing the refugees today.
In James 1:27, we read, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” And in Micah 6:8, we read, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.“
Just how many people are affected by this situation? Imagine that everyone is displaced for Ohio to California. That is half of the US population.
Imagine every man, woman and child leaving home in 29 of 50 states. That’s everyone west of Ohio and Kentucky and north of Texas, all the way to California.
The 158 million people in those states make up the same percentage of the U.S. population — 49% — as the proportion of Syrians that have fled carnage there.
The war in Syria is so awful and unrelenting that more people have left that country than any other country in recent years. One of every five displaced persons in the world is Syrian.
Watch this video (courtesy of World Vision) to get a firsthand account of a Syrian displaced refugee.
HOW DID THIS WAR START?
Syria’s conflict has spiraled out of control from peaceful protests against the government in 2011 and grew in violent insurgency that has drawn in numerous other countries. There are wars within the war. According to an article in the Atlantic and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “It’s partly a civil war of government against people; partly a religious war pitting Assad’s minority Alawite (pronounced Ala-Wheat) sect, aligned with Shiite fighters from Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon, against Sunni rebel groups; and increasingly a proxy war featuring Russia and Iran against the United States and its allies. Whatever it is, it has so far killed 320,000 people, half of the country’s population is displaced out of out their homes, and it has facilitated the rise of ISIS.” (Quoted from the Atlantic article). For a more in depth explanation, go to: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/syrian-civil-war-guide-isis/410746/
(From the above Atlantic article)
In September 2015, a photo of 3 year-old refugee, Alan Kurdi, prompted an international response and changed public opinion. Alan’s story gave voice to the struggle of the Syrian refugees. (Warning: May contain disturbing or graphic images) http://globalnews.ca/news/2204006/these-images-changed-public-opinion-has-alan-kurdis-photo-done-the-same/
Another story referenced in today’s message was the TED talk given by Ms. Lee, a North Korean refugee and how a stranger helped her and became a symbol of hope for her and for the North Korean people in their time of need. https://www.ted.com/talks/hyeonseo_lee_my_escape_from_north_korea?language=en#t-623364
HOW BAD IS IT OVER THERE?
Syria Refugee Crisis Fast Facts
Why are Syrians fleeing their homes?
What are their greatest needs?
What is our response to this deficit? This need? How are we the hands and feet of Jesus? Will you dare to step into the margins? I like the way The Message puts James 1:27 and Micah 6:8 James 1:27 says The Message (MSG) “Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” Micah 6:8 says,“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love. And don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously.
World Vision is already on the ground there providing food, water sanitation systems, & emergency supplies. They have distributed baby kids, hygiene kits, medical assistance, supplementary education for kids, safe places for kids to play and working with churches on the ground over there. Since the beginning of the Syria refugee crisis, World Vision has helped nearly 2 million2 children and adults in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. In Europe, we are now providing aid to refugees in Serbia. They are at work in the most broken places across the world. We are joining a movement of churches who are committing to following Jesus to the margins by helping the millions of child refugees fleeing the violence in Syria.
How Our Church Can Respond
(Here are difference ways our church can respond)
1. Gain awareness and educate others.
2. Pray for the refugee’s health, food, water, shelter, and safety and pray for those working with them.
3. Take up a One Time Donation
This is what we will be doing here today, through the week online, and next Sunday at New City. If you feel compelled to give, you can give by check or cash (marked for Refugee Sunday) during the offering song or right now online on your phones at NEWCITYCOV.ORG/GIVE and mark it for Refugee Sunday.
4. Respond monthly to meet the needs of refugees
The Refugee Responder Pledge is a monthly pledge people can signup for to offer lasting support to refugees living in unimaginable conditions. There are RESPONDER Pamphlets in the back of the sanctuary or at worldvision.org if you are interested in this option.